As an ex-English teacher, I’m somewhat aware of the power of language. Only, I don’t think I knew how much it could affect food until Cheesy Eggplant Bake. (P.S. I will be repeating the phrase “Cheesy Eggplant Bake” as many times as possible in the following paragraphs. Because I can!) Cheesy Eggplant Bake is a simple, delicious five-star vegetarian dish from AllRecipes. It should have hundreds of reviews, but alas – only 10 decorate its lonely page. Why, I ask. Why?
Is it the picture? Nope. Stunningly (for AllRecipes, anyway), the accompanying photo makes Cheesy Eggplant Bake look alluringly tasty.
What about the ingredients? Nope. Cheap, plentiful, and way healthy, especially if you have a garden.
Could the similarly-monikered Cheesy Baked Eggplant be hogging all the glory? Er … nuh unh.
It’s gotta be the name. There’s no other explanation for it. Who the crap wants to eat anything named Cheesy Eggplant Bake? You might as well call it Vegetables in a Dish with Stuff on Top, because it would elicit about the same level of temptation. Y’know – let’s put it this way: if Cheesy Eggplant Bake was listed on Epicurious as Deconstructed Ratatouille with Mushrooms and Mozzarella, people would get wind burns in the rush to the kitchen.
But hear this, my lovelies: ignore the name. You gotta try this thing. It’s a winnah, and the servings are HUGE so there's no need to pair them with another food (though pasta could be a good side if needed). And while the AllRecipes version would be totally fine, you can lessen the caloric impact by cutting one tablespoon of olive oil, substituting two egg whites for two whole eggs, and using part-skim shredded mozzarella instead of full-fat slices. (Those directions are below.)
Readers – how ‘bout you? Have you ever had a really great meal with a wildly awful name? Or vice versa? Do tell. (And try the Cheesy Eggplant Bake!)
Cheesy Eggplant Bake
Adapted from All Recipes.
1 medium eggplant, peeled
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 egg + 2 egg whites
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
6 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1) Slice eggplant crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds. Arrange rounds in a colander in your sink and sprinkle salt all over them. Walk away for half an hour. When finished, "rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels."
2) While eggplant is sitting, combine bread crumbs, garlic salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl or on a plate. In a separate shallow bowl, whisk eggs. When eggplant is done, douse each slice in the egg mixture. Then dip in the bread crumb mixture to coat. Shake off any excess and/or drippy-ness.
3) In a large skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Cook a few rounds until browned, about 2 minutes per side. When finished, arrange in 13x9-inch baking dish. Repeat for second batch.
4) Preheat oven to 350°F.
5) Heat last 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add green pepper, onion, and mushrooms. Cook until onion is softening and pepper is crisp/tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top eggplant with mixture. Add tomatoes on top of that, spreading evenly.
6) Cover with tin foil and bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven and take off tin foil. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake another 25 or 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and a little brown. Serve to applause.
Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
260 calories, 11.2 g fat, $1.41
1 medium eggplant: 110 calories, 0.9 g fat, $1.41
2 teaspoons salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs: 330 calories, 4.5 g fat, $0.45
1 tablespoon garlic salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.06
1/2 teaspoon pepper: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
1 eggs + 2 egg whites: 108 calories, 5.1 g fat, $0.45
2 tablespoons olive oil: 237 calories, 26.8 g fat, $0.20
1 large green pepper: 33 calories, 0.3 g fat, $0.74
1 medium onion: 46 calories, 0.1 g fat, $0.20
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms: 50 calories, 0.8 g fat, $1.50
2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes: 214 calories, 1.6 g fat, $1.58
6 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded: 432 calories, 27.1 g fat, $1.83
TOTAL: 1560 calories, 67.2 g fat, $8.45
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 260 calories, 11.2 g fat, $1.41